Derek Smith was born in 1930. His musical career started as a schoolboy at University College School. After playing brass in the Chelsea Symphony and National Youth Orchestras, he studied for a chemistry degree at UCL. He also learned a lot about musical phrasing while playing for Colin Davis, particularly in the Kalmar Orchestra and Chelsea Opera Group.
He worked as a scientist and studied conducting with Norman Del Mar, acting as his assistant at the Croydon Symphony Orchestra. He was Assistant Conductor of the Modern Symphony Orchestra, and took composition lessons with Malcolm Arnold. For twenty years, he played horn in a wind quintet, and for more than a decade ran his own wind ensemble as conductor and arranger. One of his pleasures is to recast excellent but neglected music into more practical formats for modern performance, particularly creation of chamber works from larger ensembles.
His original compositions include four string quartets, a three-movement piano quartet, some songs for soprano and wind quintet, and a Quintet for Brass instruments Tomkins Tunes premiered by Fine Arts Brass in 2004. One of his most recent works Bachorales: Concerto for ten wind & double-bass, was premiered under his direction on 8 February 2008 by ESO Winds to whom it is dedicated.
Carolingua, Derek Smith’s composition for string quartet and four soprano voices, has been awarded First Prize in the Henschel Quartet/BBC Music Magazine’s Composing Competition.